In response to CCF's idea, I've spent some time thinking about the last ten years of our financial life.
While we'd paid our mortgage down to $35,000, we used the small inheritance from my mom to pay it off. Our biggest expense is our property taxes.
We've had challenges--mostly the uncertain job market for my DH. But things seem to have settled down for him, and his contract has been extended out a year. This is the happiest he's been in a job, and also the best paid. He doesn't spend much--except on that upcoming Master's degree. He takes the bus to work, and has a free lunch.
My financial anxieties have been patched by adjunct jobs along with my regular university teaching. I'm eager to give the adjunct jobs, but will hang on for the next few in order to help fund our next big expenseD's university tuition.
She's 17 and a very low-maintenance responsible kid. She's paid all her university application fees from money earned in her PT job at the grocery store.
My biggest success has been automatically funding my university pension and retirement plan. My pay is peanuts, but this has been the reason I feel good about retirement. Years of auto-saving is the answer.
We've spent more than most on travel, but less on things that don't matter much to us like cars and toys.
I'm eager to downsize--tired of window replacements and cleaning gutters. I'd like a nice townhome or condo.
I've also found a lot of inspiration and some lovely friends here on SA. I don't have many frugal "real" friends, so have enjoyed following many of your lives.
Viewing the 'Offspring' Category
In response to CCF's idea, I've spent some time thinking about the last ten years of our financial life.
Our DD completed a fun project for her HS math class. It asked students to find a job they thought they'd qualify for after college, estimate their income, taxes, SSI, Medicare, and health insurance deductions. They then had to find housing, estimate car, utility, food, debt repayment expenses. They bought housing after figuring down payment, insurance, property taxes etc.
She REALLY enjoyed the exercise, especially condo shopping, I think. She was especially delighted to put O in the "student loan repayment" column--even when her teacher wrote "really?" She told him that was her goal. And indeed that is our goal.
We're still waiting to hear from three of her five US universities, but her "safety" school is my employer. She's been accepted there and the University of Minnesota. The next batch should be out next week, then we start in on the British schools.
Tomorrow an update on the situations at my university. It's been quite the semester.
No time until the semester ends for a real update, but here's my quickie.
I spend more time worrying about work and DD's college financing than anything else. Kind of tired of both.
My university is undergoing a title and compensation update that is making everyone angry.
I CANNOT wait for the semester to end. I want to cook, read, plan for next term, and not get up at 5:45 for a few days. And start an intense hunt for scholarship cash for DD.
A long-time friend is counting down the days to early retirement at the end of the month. That's got me thinking even more about how to balance retirement planning, UK goals, college financing, and current wants, needs, indulgences.
My big goal is now over $6000. Small potatoes to some, but it makes me feel a bit better.
See y'all in two + weeks.
Yes, we finished the FAFSA, the American college apps, and got what I can only describe as a staggering Expected family Contribution number. It was almost equivalent to my salary.
I have little other news as it will take me a while to wrap my head around that number. Here's an interesting take from the NYT on EFCs: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/15/your-money/fafsa-financial-aid-student-loans.html
Life, cold weather, and November continue.
Glad SA is back, and I guess I'll update things slowly as I get more time.
The last couple of weeks have been devoted to DD's college stuff. She's chosen five US schools and five UK schools to apply to. And we've gone over the costs a bit. It's so hard to know until the financial aid offers come through, and I'll need to finish her FAFSA soon. I wouldn't mind seeing her go to a large public university in the Midwest, but she has lots of ideas. The bottom line on all of this is some belt tightening--especially since DH's ancient clunker has almost breathed its last. He only drives it to the Park and Ride, but it didn't pass emissions and the garage says its not worth fixing. So on to a slightly newer clunker. I dearly wish we could get away with just one car, but I can't seem to make it work.
Lots to do and plan for.
The last month has sort of been a whirlwind, and it's good to be back reading everyone's blogs on SA. It's been extremely busy at work as we're trying very hard to hire for two new faculty positions. We have eight candidates chose; the seventh came on Thursday to speak, and the eighth arrives Monday. All of this has meant lunches, lectures, campus tours on top of the usual mayhem of the semester. And this is my first semester writing employee annual evaluations. And we've hosted professional development sessions. And my part-time class starts Monday.
And that's just my work. Our DD is enjoying her new part-time job with all the thrills that go with a paycheck and bank account. She is tired. She's also been very busy with theatre as they have two more performances of Mamma Mia. There have been a couple of weeks of craziness as she tried to balance that with school work, 6am meetings of the French Honor Society, bake sales, you name it. We are both longing for spring break.
DH is enjoying his class and his contract has been renewed for another three months. Although we odn't like the uncertainty of contract work, he is making more money than he ever has. That's been a good thing. And he still has free lunch and bus fare there from his student bus card.
We are pondering a trip to France for DD. Her French teacher is from Lyon, and the advanced French students are offered the opportunity to travel to a Francophone country every two years. The cost is, well, yuck. It would be Summer 2020 as she graduates. They've offered us ways to reduce the cost including hosting a French student for a few weeks this summer and deciding early. These would save about $350--about 10% of the cost of the trip. We will sit down and talk this through in the next two weeks as she'll have to write the application letter in French which might take a bit.
She is also looking at more colleges, including British universities. So much to think about.
In the meantime, I'm thinking about France too. Two months before I take off with my BFF.
Goodbye, January. The ghost of you will reappear in our heating bills, but it's nice to close the door on that cold, hard month. And it's nice to get paid. I also hope we can move on from all of our car bills, dental bills, etc.
In fun news, my DD opened a bank account today. She started her after school jojb orientation. Between that, the theatre, and all her schoolwork, she is going to be very busy.
I haven't spent a dime in days, but did contribute today to a friend's nephew's gofundme page. He's 27, has two children, and has just been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
It's time to buckle down for a serious pantry/freezer cleanout. I'd like to spend as little as possible this month--just milk and fresh fruit and veg. That's all for tonight.
I led a brainstorming session with colleagues today, spending only$2 on coffee. But then there was the follow-up dental appointment where the hygienist had me somehow convinced that I needed additional lab work to help determine the cause of my periodontal disease. To the tune of $150. I'm glad I decided on the fancy/expensive dental insurance this year. I have a feeling it's going to be an expensive year for my mouth (again).
A thrifty dinner of cauliflower cheese ensued. DD had a phone interview for a job this afternoon. She's eager for her first real job at the advanced age of 16. I hope it works out.
I had to laugh at an encounter with a student group yesterday. I ran into them in our library coffeeshop, and they were surprised to see me, asking if I didn't have Fridays off. It's a week until the end of the semester--nobody has a day off, even on weekends.
But yesterday was filled with staff meetings, class scheduling issues, and then a wonderful few hours evaluating freshman research projects. We've been encouraging veteran instructors to help their students develop research projects and mentor them. I looked at projects from history, English, and psychology which were all so well done and interesting. And there was food! I cannot tell you how welcome a huge plate of vegetables and a lovely urn of coffee is in the middle of a day like that.
Two more student meetings followed--then off to the History Department to see my husband receive his award--where there was MORE FOOD. I think I should have been a historian--what lovely people, gracious and charming.
And then home to grade more projects of varying quality. So these late semester days are different, but bless the folks who order in food to keep us going.
Our DD did her first stab at the college entrance exams this morning. No news for weeks, but she can breathe a sigh of relief that it's over for a bit. And she's been made the head of costumes for their upcoming production of Mamma Mia.
Back to grading and how to improve this assignment next time.
Not much time to write lately,and I miss you all. School is very busy, many meetings, some challenging students, and the usual pile of grading and prep.
DD is also busy with school, theater, and friends. I'm so glad we bought the Harry Potter Sunday movie package together. We just saw the 6th one on Sunday, and it's a nice time for us to sit down together, chat on the way, and just plain relax. It was parent/teacher conferences tonight, and they all love her. She's doing very well. She's got three AP classes, two languages, and a full slate of theater assignments. Honestly, her life exhausts me.
We drove to her school together this morning at 6:45 as we baked two coffee cakes for the French Honor Bake sale and she couldn't balance it all. I headed to school right after that. That's the kind of schedule we've been handling lately.
I have a weekend filled with grading and prep, but hope to get outside some. I need to tackle garden clean up. DH is hanging in there with the new job, but they've only paid him for a week so far. His ear checkup is tomorrow, so hopefully he can go back to the gym and start more normal activities.
Two months to our London trip!
Hmm--It's been a week or so since last I blogged, and what a busy week it's been. DH had more interviews, but has taken the contract at his former employer that he left about 20 months ago. It's a great hourly rate, and honestly, he really likes it there. We think he starts on Wednesday after all the checks. Glad we got his drug test in before his surgery.
So yes, he's also had ear surgery. Last Thursday we drove to a hospital about an hour west of us at (ugh) 4:30 a.m. for his stapedectomy. He's never had any surgeries or much medical, and he was a nervous wreck. But all went well, and I think he was a bit sobered by folks getting pacemakers, stents, and much more serious things. We'll know in a few weeks how successful it's been restoring his hearing. Right now his ear is full of packing which will be removed on Friday
School started for DD; all's well there. School also started for me, and while my classes seem fine, my new administrative function is headache inducing. There are plenty of my colleagues who would rather not speak to one another, so they've decided I'm their intermediary. Because I'm in charge of class scheduling, I've had everything from pleas, to demands, to outright anger about next semester's schedule. All of a sudden I can see who the easy folks are, and who is decidedly difficult. It's going to be an interesting time.
This afternoon DD and I bought a Harry Potter package at the local theater. We got tickets for 9 shows--all the Potter movies and Fantastic Beasts for $27. We go the next eight Sundays. I really enjoyed seeing HP1 on the big screen. So much grander than DVDs at home.
It's fun for us to hang out too--if there's a week I can't go, she can always take a friend.
I've been busily using our garden and CSA veggies. Friday night it was Southern Tomato Pie, followed by Croatian Chicken last night, and tonight veggie curry.
Time to ramp up a bit of frugality. We've been too lax lately.
My UFM has gone off the rails. I have plenty of excuses, the major one being my daughter's 16th birthday yesterday. I guffawed through articles about what to do for a 16th birthday that included new cars, trips abroad, and a cake made of rolled up dollar bills.
But DD was hesitant about her birthday plans, and decided at the last minute what she'd really like is a whole day with her BFF, especially since the BFF recently moved back near us. I was just the driver and offerer of options. They decided on an hour or so at Target where they bought nothing and looked at everything, followed by a trip to the amazing ethnic grocery next store where I bought olive oil, and they spent 35 minutes looking at imported squid, Polish candy, Mexican peppers, Turkish grape leaves, and just about everything else you can think of. I remember very well loving trips like that with my friends when I was that age. On to the Humane Society where I fell in love with a dog and they fell in love with a cat. Lots of petting but no adopting. We then had lunch in Milwaukee's funky third ward followed by more odd shopping. They spent, I kid you not, 60 minutes looking at succulents. Then we all had pedicures, paddled boats on the lake, followed by dinner at PF Changs and more d**m shopping for them.
I kept up my cheerful demeanor, but by the end of the evening, I let them shop and goof around while I sat in a comfy chair at Barnes and Noble. DD loved the day; it'll take me days to recover. And today won't be frugal either as I'm meeting DH for lunch to cheer on English football. Frugality will resume, but it's likely to be next week. Hey, she's only 16 once.
We spent the weekend in Madison so DH and I could work on his history project and DD could tour UW Madison. Great hotel with some nice dinners out, but it was sweltering which put a damper on some plans. We met up with a former student, swam in the hotel pool, and enjoyed their lovely free breakfasts as well as the huge Farmers' Market. As an employee of UW Madison poorer sister campus, I was blown away by their fabulous facilities and beautiful setting. I go there at least once a year, but am always impressed--as was DD. Their offerings tick a lot of her "want" boxes.
We came home to a very warm day, but managed to unpack and get some laundry in before our power blew out with a strong rainstorm about 4. No electricity until midnight, but everything appears to have survived in the freezer and fridge.
Today's plans include a trip to the gymn, DD's French lessons, some meal prep for the week, and perhaps dinner with friends. Thankfully I have a gift card just waiting to be redeemed for dinner. My dear friend is headed back to AZ on the 5th, and I'm eager to see her again before she goes.